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AAR: Integrated Combatives, Amtac / Bill Rapier, May 27-28 (2017), New Holland PA

"I don't care what their plan is, I am going to execute my plan on them."

I have taken numerous classes with Bill and while I have a good bit of experience dealing with the topic of Integrated Combatives, but hands on training is always the best to perfect competence and proficiency.  This was most definitely not a pistol-only class, even though it did have a very good explanation of how to employ the pistol as a tool.  Those who carry a pistol should understand that a pistol, most often, is not the only tool they should have in their toolbox.  Being able get hands on, using simple concepts of strikes and proper mental development to produce tactically superior actions is often the best method of overcoming adversaries.  I knew that going into this class I would have to work diligently at refining my personal knowledge and application of integrated combatives.  The pace of this class was higher paced that the Responsible Armed Citizen Class, but all the topics were extremely important and Bill's progression of teaching/installing the concepts were very smooth and thorough.
Bill talked a little bit about blade draws from an IWB or inside the belt (outside the pants) sheath and the concept of "tip-on."
Bill then went on to show the application of a three step hand strike, blade draw and retention shot.

The only real gear requirement for this class, other than whatever you normally carry EDC is a training blade/sheath and possibly a blue gun or SIRT pistol for the hands-on training portion of the class.  I brought my Rat and Dirty training blades.  I also brought my Glock 19L with Unity Tactical G17 ATOM Slide with Aimpoint T1 2MOA in my V Development Group Seraph Optic Cut G17 Holster to run throughout the class.  

The First Half (Day One)
I missed all of the first half of day one, I came after lunch, but I know exactly what was taught and what concepts were covered.  Bill went over many of the same concepts of pistol application as he taught in the Responsible Armed Citizen class.  He covered accuracy, dealing with what impedes accuracy and his personal take on certain concepts of fundamental pistol shooting which he believed were the most important to provide to students.  Primary dealing with trigger reset, sight alignment, stance, concepts like natural point of aim and tied all the above into retention position shooting and how to properly apply it to combatives.  This progression led into the hands on, combatives part of the class.  Since this not a pistol class, but a combatives class, the reason for covering pistol in the beginning of the class is to flush out some potential issues early on and to understand that the pistol is a tool just like open hand strikes and elbows.  This is not always instantly received by students as pistol application is often times taught to be mentally separated from hands on application.  Both are, however, forms of violence which have their own practical applications which overlap oftentimes.  The pistol aspect was more thoroughly explained in the Responsible Armed Citizen class, but as this is an integrated combatives class, the pistol skills were covered just enough to provide a good and working understanding of a pistols role in the integration of combatives.  Proper scanning was explained along with Bill's Strike Ready stance and how it fits into the rest of this class as a whole becomes more and more obvious as the students go through the progressions.  

The Second Half (Day One)
When I finally made it to the range Bill was well into his instruction of Spear Elbow entries and of the pipe strike.  Bill would go through a demonstration progression and then the students would go into a practical repetition phase on each other.

The students would do practice the demoed movements and strikes.

If issues arose, Bill would be available to come around and answer any questions which may come up as many students were never exposed to this level of integrated combatives before, having someone on hand with intimate knowledge of practical application of these specific movements available to not just explain but to correct anything is invaluable. 

The students were encouraged to mix and match techniques taught, not staying within the confines of the specific movements being demoed if they were able to understand them and move forward.  Some students were able to quickly the demonstrated head-butts into the progressions.

Bill was always keeping an eye on the students and how they progressed through each evolution of reps and how they integrated many aspects of instruction into live reps on each other.  This was very important as any issues or mistakes were quickly observable and flushed out by Bill so that the wrong (or bad) reps were not done.  

After allotting enough time for the students to get enough reps of a particular evolution, he would introduce another strike into the mix, like the elbow strike.

Bill went over specific targeting of the elbow.

Then covered application with force against a thai pad.

The students then performed the reps dry, while Bill walked around to make sure the proper reps were being done.

Then the students moved on to force-contact reps against thai pads held by their partners.

Bill continued to walk around to make sure the students were properly executing the movements and burning proper reps.

After the students got these concepts down after an adequate amount of reps Bill moved on to integrating the movements and strikes rep'd with a pistol draw and contact shot from the retention position.  

Bill spent a good amount of time explaining the position, reasoning behind it and various methods of implementation.

Stand is extremely important in this particular evolution and Bill wanted to make sure each student understood their particular body mechanics while learning to employ retention shooting properly.  Strike elbow while retention shooting is a good platform for force implementation, one which has solid roots in the combatives world.  The students went on to burn some reps of this.

Bill then went on to talk about blades and give a quick blade protocol explanation.  Handling of blades is extremely important, including sheathing and passing blades.

Once Bill finished this explanation of blade protocol he went directly into Sayoc Vital Template 3 of 9, which Bill explained the reasoning behind and demonstrated its application in this context.  He then broken down the progression and began the install process for the students, piece by piece.

Bill demonstrated the entire template, then corrected students as he saw the need to.

Some students knew this template from prior classes and/or instructor from the Sayoc Kali system, so this was a modified refresher on the subject as Bill teaches this method left hand, reverse grip, as most carry a belt other strong in this way.  Train as you carry, right?

Bill would make it a point to emphasis targeting as needed.

After the students were given a good amount of time to rep the 3 of 9 template, Bill wanted to finish off the day with a shooting evolution, specifically from retention.

Bill got right into retention position shooting and went through a progression which allowed the students to get accurate hits on target from this position.  Bill demonstrated it thoroughly and integrated it with his previously covered Strike Ready position, as well as his method of scanning.

The class went through the progression as Bill explained it piece by piece.

Scanning was a mandatory requirement in each rep of this drill, as it should be in any firearm based training.

At one point we had some of the locals come out and see what all the noise was about.  Lucky for them we were not hungry for indigenous flavors at that moment.

Bill made sure to explain various aspects of retention shooting as required to each of the students.  This is not something which is constantly trained by most (although it should be) and as such direct instruction is the best method of installing the information.

The day was finished up by a combination and free flow of command to draw to retention shooting progression.  

The First Half (Day Two)
Day two started out with the mindset talk.  Bill took a good bit of this information from Tuhon Tom Kier's mindset talks (link is to a ThePressureProject podcast TTK talks about mindset in), while adding his own personal approach to mindset among other aspects he believes are important enough to share with the students.  Having sat through these mindset talks from various people, including Bill and TTK at various times in my life for varying lengths of time, I can say without hesitation that Bill not only understands The Readiness Formula but knows how to effectively and efficiently pass it on to his students.  This talk, in and of itself, is worth the time and money, Bill just happened to include all the other aspects of integrated combatives along with it.  

After the mindset talk, Bill setup what he calls The Cold-bore Drill, referring to the first shot from a cold rifle, essentially the first drill you should consider running when you get to the range as it will most adequately show you how you will perform cold on demand out in the world.

Bill went through it and we used the Rubber Dummy I have been beating up for the last few months for this drill.  Since shooting targets that have a three dimensional aspect to them is better than shooting flat paper.

After Bill demonstrated it, the students each went one by one with Bill on the shot timer making sure to keep everyone accountable.

After the cold-bore drill, we went over the progressions learned the day before like elbows...

This was good because it completed the install of this type of information through properly instructed reps corrected when needed by Bill.  This was the time when Bill made whatever micro-corrections were required in order for each student to perfect their application of these skills.

Bill continued to hammer in certain concepts and encouraged the students to free flow as they became more comfortable with each skill set.

Bill also began to complete the install of the 3 of 9 template, having the students go through a progression of target sets in order.

Bill made sure he was giving pointers and explaining targeting as needed.

The students began to rep this three step combination with a bit of force, speed and targeting.

You may remember #tactithulhu posting a short video about this, wonder where he got that stuff from....

Bill then went over how it works out during live fire, demonstrating it, especially two handed manipulations, blade in hand.

Then the whole progression live fire.

Bill threw in a threat oriented (tip on) one handed, immediate action, demo as well.

Bill also went into proper transition into Strike Ready from this drill's position and how to it to work properly.

The students on to do this drill.

Testing out various grips blade and pistol combo.

Bill came by each student, observing and correcting as needed through demonstration.

Bill would provide a "threat" command as needed for students to initiate contact.

Scanning, pistol and blade in Strike Ready position was as much a part of this drill as any other.  This is a reoccurring theme throughout Bill's instruction, being in the best possible fighting position while scanning in important.

Bill showed the class a simo-draw (which Kyle Defoor also teaches) as well as blade-in-hand reloads.

The students then ran these progressions.

We broke for lunch here and Bill talked about various types of rifles and setups which may or may not be applicable to various locations throughout the US.  Bill teaches a very thoroughly thought out rifle class.

The Second Half (Day Two)
After a working lunch we got right back into the meat of power slaps.  This is a very good method of open hand contact.  Bill explains the methodology and demonstrates.  

"But with great power, comes great responsibility, if you use the power too much you will wake up sore."

The students went on to practice the power slap.

Bill came around and made sure everyone was doing it properly.

Bill advised the students to improvise and deploy a blade or pistol after such a contact.  Free flow when possible.

Bill talked a little about reactionary gap and introduced the class to arm drags.

Bill showed how to escape such a rear hold.

The students then followed with their reps, blade and pistol deployment as needed.  Free flow is expected and encouraged.

Bill talked about getting up with gun in hand (a technique he got from Master Chim).

Then the class repped it.

Bill then got into Thai Plum, it's implications and usage.

Knees are always good.  The students burned their reps of Thai Plum.

After a bit of that and some knee work, Bill went into getting out of this hold and a repping progression with a partner.

Bill encouraged the students to get into their own groove and free flow as much as they wanted to.  This presented several students to get a little more into it than others.

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The last drill in this class was a "Stress Course" which I did record my run, but the video turned off in the beginning when I was elbowing the pads.  Bill runs a fairly good and long stress course, incorporating everything he taught over the two day class, and some extra stuff, specifically to challenge the students in a way they may have never been challenged before.  Adding stress through running, striking, shooting numerous targets over varying distances.  I did not do too well in this particular stress course, but redeemed myself in the stress course in the following class I posted about in an article I posted in reference to running an RDS mounted pistol.

This class is part of Bill's pipeline of developing competent, capable and responsible citizens.  He says in every class, "If you are involved in a violent confrontation, you are probably the most highly trained person there.  Step up and lead."  This is not only true, but very much representative of the students Bill enjoys training.  His teaching method is extremely well received by every student I have ever come in contact with who has taken his classes.  He comes across very well, connecting concepts through practical demonstration, while easily conveying his experience and knowledge from his time in some of the US's most premier military teams.  While much of the content was nothing I have not seen before, there were very far ranging skill sets of students attending this class and all came out with a better understanding of the content.  There are some classes which people take and get one or two nuggets of knowledge from, this class in particular opens most students minds up and primes them for much more.  A lot like his Responsible Armed Citizen class, this is a step in that direction with more of a physically demanding and hands on approach to interpersonal violence.